Read Mark 13:1-37
1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
5Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9"You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong — let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now — and never to be equaled again. 20If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible. 2 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
24"But in those days, following that distress,
"'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
28"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
32"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" (NIV)
This is one of the most problematic chapters in the New Testament for Christian readers. It is a chapter that is filled with ideas and images from Jewish history. It is the most Jewish passage in the Bible.
What we have hear is one of the “apocalyptic” passages outside of the Book of Revelation. Jesus here is speaking of the end times. In this passage, we find quotes from the Old Testament books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Daniel, and Zechariah. There are also many other indirect references or allusions to other passages in the Old Testament.
When we look at this passage, we remember that that most theologians believe Mark was written during the mid-60’s AD which is around the time of the war with Rome where the temple was destroyed. Verse 2 then shows that Jesus predicted this destruction.
We also see that this discussion was not with the wider audience as many of Jesus’ teaching. We see in verse 3 that this was a discussion with Peter, James, John and Andrew. These were people who have up much to follow Jesus. These were all men of means. Their families owned many boats to fish and hired people to help them.
In verse 6, we see that this is still a problem today. Many come to speak in Christ’s name for their own profit. There are still many being deceived by false prophets/preachers.
In verses 9-11, Jesus is reminding them they will be harassed, arrested and persecuted for their faith. But that the Holy Spirit will be with them always to speak.
In verse 14 – 27, Jesus draws on typical Jewish apocalyptic imagery. Daniel had a vision of one like the son of man coming down in the clouds. But Jesus is also alluding to images that are spoken of often in Daniel about the “abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong.” The Jews has already lived through a time when Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to stamp out all Jewish religion and desecrated the temple. The Maccabean rebellion by the Jews would follow after many years of persecution. Jesus is alluding that this will happen again in the last days.
He closes this teaching with a parable about the fig tree and a warning to keep watch.
For Christians, the idea of the second coming is not something they think about often. It is has been so long since Christ said he would return. But the fact that Jesus will return should be important in how we live. It had an effect on the early Christians as they though Christ was coming soon as we don’t fully understand what Jesus meant in verse 30. But when Christ’s return was delayed, priorities changed and people stopped helping and giving to one another. We became a bit more selfish.
The question that we must mull over is what does it mean that Christ will return? What ways are you looking for the return of Christ? One of the ways I speak of this is that Christ will return in each of our lifetimes. When we died, we meet the risen Lord and there is no longer anytime left to make a decision as to did we believe and trust Christ or did we not. And none of us knows the time of our death.
And what does this say to our current situation in the country? World?
Blessings and Peace